Ellen G. White Writings

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From the Heart, Page 48

Winning Back the Erring, February 5

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15.

If you are grieved because your neighbors or friends are doing wrong to their own hurt, if they are overtaken in fault, follow the Bible rule. “Tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” As you go to the one you suppose to be in error, see that you speak in a meek and lowly spirit, for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The erring can in no other way be restored than in the spirit of meekness and gentleness and tender love. Be careful in your manner. Avoid anything in look or gesture, word or tone of voice, that savors of pride or self-sufficiency. Guard yourself against a word or look that would exalt self or present your goodness and righteousness in contrast with their failings. Beware of the most distant approach to disdain, overbearing, or contempt. With care avoid every appearance of anger, and though you use plainness of speech, yet let there be no reproach, no railing accusation, no token of warmth, but that of earnest love. Above all, let there be no shadow of hate or ill will, no bitterness nor sourness of expression....

Bear in mind that the success of reproof depends greatly upon the spirit in which it is given. Do not neglect earnest prayer that you may possess a lowly mind and that angels of God may work upon the hearts you are trying to reach, before you, and so soften them by heavenly impressions, that your efforts may avail....

You may have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to them, and taking the steps God has absolutely commanded. Perhaps you say, “I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.” What burdened you? Was it a plain neglect of your own duty, a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go tell him his fault between thee and him alone....

Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case, the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly and leave them with your Heavenly Father.—The Review and Herald, July 17, 1879.

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